Charles Zelle, Commissioner of Transportation, stopped in Austin to talk about Minnesota's roads including the transportation funding gap, Thursday morning. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com
Charles Zelle, Commissioner of Transportation, stopped in Austin to talk about Minnesota's roads including the transportation funding gap, Thursday morning. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

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MnDOT chief rolls through Austin, lauds Vision 2020 partnership

Published 11:12am Friday, September 13, 2013

Minnesota’s head of transportation stopped in Austin Thursday to discuss local partnerships and spread the state’s message about the importance of transportation funding.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle met with Vision 2020 organizers Thursday morning to hear about local plans to spruce up bridges in Austin’s Interstate 90 corridor over the next few years. Zelle said he had “great optimism” the state would be able to help the community improvement project on its requests, including bike trails connecting north and south Austin across I-90, and highlighted the partnership’s benefits.

“It’s just a model we’d like to do with other places,” Zelle said.

Zelle is traveling around the state hearing from residents about local transportation needs while doing a little transportation PR on the state’s plans to address infrastructure issues over the next few years.

“We have to maintain a world-class system,” he said.

Transportation needs are expected to skyrocket over the next 20 years as state officials concentrate on Minnesota infrastructure. About 15 percent of Minnesota bridges were labeled in fair or poor condition, with about 7 percent of the state’s highways labeled the same in 2011, according to a MnDOT report.

Zelle acknowledged the state’s growing workload by highlighting MnDOT efforts to spend transportation dollars wisely and to plan for increasing transportation needs over the next 20 years. He also called for increasing transportation funding and more partnerships between local organizations and MnDOT over the next few years.

“The gain could be substantial,” he said.

Zelle took part in a town hall meeting in Rochester Thursday afternoon as well.

 


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